The Federal Government, on Sunday, expressed concern about the 21-day strike notice issued by the Nigerian Medical Association over the alleged failure of government to meet the demands of the striking resident doctors.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, while responding to an inquiry by one of our correspondents on the threat by the NMA, said doctors should stop embarking on strikes at dangerous times and appealed to the resident doctors to call off their strike.
Ehanire said these as the Federal Government and the NMA disagreed on the 21-day ultimatum issued by the umbrella body of medical doctors in the country.
The NMA, in a statement on Saturday after its National Executive Council meeting in Benin, Edo State, said its affiliates, including the Medical and Dental Consultants of Nigeria, the Medical and Dental Doctors in Academics and the National Association of Resident Doctors, had resolved to commence a nationwide strike after the ultimatum.
In its statement on Saturday, the umbrella body of medical doctors noted that the Federal Government had not met the demands of resident doctors, who began a strike on August 2.
Before embarking on the strike, NARD had accused the government of failing to enrol its members on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System and not paying some of its members on residency training.
Efforts by the NMA to resolve the disagreements between NARD and the government have so far failed. Also, both sides disagreed on the ruling of the industrial court, which ordered the doctors to call off the strike.
The NMA had threatened to join the ongoing strike by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors if the government failed to resolve all the issues contained in the various agreements signed with its affiliate unions.
But reacting to the threat in a statement titled, ‘Labour ministry to NMA: Your 21-day ultimatum in collision with our MoU,’ the government argued that the NMA’s position was at variance with the timeline stated in the Memorandum of Agreement.
It said, “First is that the NMA communique in Benin which issued a 21-day ultimatum is at variance with the timeline in article II, Vii, Vii and X of the MOA.
“Importantly, article II on payment of the outstanding hazard allowance from the 2020 Medical Residency Training Fund states that the fund will be paid after verification and reconciliation of figures from the BOF. Till now, Both NARD/ Postgraduate Medical College are yet to submit the validated application for the eligible doctors missed out in 2020 to enable this payment.
“Article Vii on withdrawal of the circular from the Office of the Head of Service removing House and NYSC Doctors from the scheme of service says ‘the NMA should submit her position immediately to the FMOH PS for onward transmission to the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation with a view to processing and issuance of clarification circular within two months.’ The NMA is yet to comply with this.”
Akpan further submitted that the technical committee set up in article Vii to tackle the backlog of arrears on Government Integrated Financial Management Information System was given four weeks effective Monday, August 31, 2021, to round off its assignments, querying if this wasn’t a collision with the 21-day ultimatum.
He added, “Also, article X of the MoU also states that the Nigerian Medical Association should facilitate the withdrawal of suits by Medical and Dental Doctors in Academics against the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission and the Accountant- General of the Federation to ensure the amicable resolution of the issues. The NMA is yet to do this, yet issuing a fresh ultimatum.
“It is, therefore, clear that the 21-day ultimatum will neither assist the NMA discharge the role assigned to it in the MoU nor facilitate the faithful implementation of the timeline which the federal government has given every attention.”
The government admonished the NMA to play its role “as the guardian of its affiliate associations instead of descending into the arena for needless fear of impeachment.”
“It has by the communique issued in Benin abdicated the main role assigned to it in the August 21 MoU,” the government alleged.